15608/Gotham by Night - an elicit tradehub

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Gotham by Night - an elicit tradehub
Date of Scene: 17 September 2023
Location: The Continental Gotham, East Park Side
Synopsis: Sinister has grand plans for a feather of an Archangel he has acquired. Betsy has her doubts and isn't afraid to express them.
Cast of Characters: Sinister, Psylocke

Sinister has posed:
There are places that become known for a certain thing. Amsterdam it's clogs and tulips and canals. London it's museums and financiers and fish and chips. There are places, such as Paris and Florence that cultivate the refined and the gourmand...

And then there's Gotham, which exports savvy businessmen, vigilantes and a very unique breed of psychopath. The Dark Knight's city is hardly the shining beacon of Metropolis, or the hustling melting pot of New York -- but it does do a fine trade in old criminality and a brisk hustle in the kind of dealer that can get you antiquity for the right price, commodity for the right deal and illegal items for a vast sum of money. And it's just easier to get it in and OUT of Gotham, by all standards.

And so, because there's a certain style and a measure of Grace associated with both the place and the client, Sinister has taken up in the smoking lounge of the Continental Gotham Hotel. The quality and antiquity of the decor bespeaks an older world and one where the mob in their finest suits, might have lunch and cigars with politicians, all whilst a lady croons tunes into an old fashioned Mic. Maybe that's why Essex likes the place. There are certain time periods that are like comfortable old shoes. They just fit right.

He sips black coffee in one of the booths, some appetizers sitting untouched on a nearby plate. There's an ebony box nearby and a good solid briefcase also. He's even DRESSED for the roaring twenties.
Psylocke has posed:
It isn't often Betsy Braddock has stepped foot in Gotham. For one, it's full of vigilantes who, rightfully or not, might well look at some of the things she has done in the past in this form, either as Kwannon or herself, and object to her presence. For another, the place is so crime-riddled that someone like Betsy -- a Japanese woman wearing expensive designer dress, diamonds at her ears, and heels that might cost more than the diamonds -- just screams out potential victim.

That air of distaste might be self-evident as she strides into the hotel, heels clipping on the floor. She tucks her back under one arm as violet eyes scan the lounge, land on Essex, and pass over him to continue her scout. Familiar faces, some of them. The politicians, at least. She steers well clear of the mob.

Undoubtedly she gets some considering looks as she sways her way over to Nathaniel. The former model is used to this, pretends not to notice the looks, and slows when she reaches his table. "The '20's suit you, Nathaniel," she compliments by way of greeting.
Sinister has posed:
"It had a certain sense of style and some very potent memories," Sinister stands of course, then pulls out the chair for her, it is a thing that is done and he does it like there was no thought attached but the /correctitude/ of it. He air-kisses her cheek this time, because of where they are -- to not do so would draw a bit more attention and frankly, the two of them currently could be straight out of a Film Noire and she a femme fatale, or the dangerous exotique.

"I hope traffic wasn't horrendous. It's hard to get even the seediest taxis to go down certain streets here..." he almost jokingly offers. "How have you been since... Willowdale?"

It is a question that had to be answered. He leaves the 'and how is Warren' unspoken, but it's there. He smells of extremely expensive and very masculine cologne tonight.
Psylocke has posed:
The greeting is returned without hesitation, it being a default of Betsy rather than a play for the audience they have. It's the little things -- his gentlemanly gestures to hold out her chair as she seats herself and sets her purse on the table -- that make her smile. That make her perhaps a little too at ease in his company. Familiar gestures of a home that feels ever further away these days.

"I took a car service," Betsy admits. "I wanted to drive, but I also wanted to have a car with actual wheels on it when I left, so -- it was a compromise." Her smile is brilliant, immediate. Only a slight faltering of it when he mentions Willowdale. Violet gaze flickers over his coffee, and she gestures towards one of the passing servers with a nod to Nathaniel's cup to indicate her want.

She doesn't drink coffee. But it's a good prop.

"Children are... always difficult," Betsy finally says, as her gaze comes back to Nathaniel. "But everything else went better than I had anticipated." She, too, is talking of Warren without mentioning his name. "And you -- you recovered?" It is not mere lip service; the telepath does seem genuinely concerned, judging by the way she's regarding him.
Sinister has posed:
"Right as rain," A flourish of the hand gestures like a magician to his face -- Two eyes, lack of any scar tissue, no third degree burn recoveries to be seen -- "I meant what I said about being rather like a cockroach."

There's a pause, whilst the waiter brings over the coffee, setting it with a little dish of sugar lumps (no sachets!) and cream in a little jug. There's standards. Only when the waiter is out of earshot again, does he speak once more.

"I'm glad you could come tonight, I have a rather curious thing for you to have a judgement of. You see, your object reading is nuanced differently than mine and I need to make sure what I feel is not wrong. Also, I thought I should have a little extra chat time with you." With a gesture, the world seems far and away, not that it's more silent, although it is -- it would take a keen eye to notice they're in a kinetic shield at the moment, the usual red is EXTREMELY subtle. He must be concentrating. And of course, there's the studious ignoring of all and sundry of this particular table. His usual countermeasure against eavesdropping. They just won't remember they heard anything.

A gesture is made then, to the ebony box. It's about the size of a bracelet jewelery case, or a particularly fancy collar necklace.
Psylocke has posed:
"It is one thing to be told it, another to see it," Betsy says, but despite the flourish her gaze remains steady on his eyes. There's no relief in her voice, but she does seem content, wordlessly happy that he has recovered despite the horrific injuries she witnessed. The waiter is thanked absently, as she reaches for the coffee. She doesn't bother to stir anything in it; the sip she takes of it is the barest possible for politeness' sake.

It's habit, really, for Betsy to suppress awareness of, or interest in her, when she's in a private conversation. Sometimes it's little more than a subtle nudge. But when she senses that energy and the change in awareness of those around her, she releases that hold -- almost seems to relax, mentally -- though not so much that she drops that shield that suppresses her psychic presence.

"You humor me, Nathaniel. I really can't foresee that you would actually mistrust your own abilities." Betsy seems, if anything, faintly bemused. She does, however, play along. Anything sufficient to intrigue Nathaniel Essex surely piques the interest of Betsy Braddock.

Setting down her coffee, untouched, she leans forward to open up the box and investigate the contents.
Sinister has posed:
"Oh, I assure you, I am not humoring anything or anyone at the moment. And this is something that -cannot- be as they say in the army SNAFU'd." He maintains enough eye contact to be normative, not so much as to be salacious and certainly not to a level of intimidation. He's at ease and trying to show it, though the rest of his features hold a subtle tension.

And in the box when it's opened is a single primary feather. It's enormous, in that the bird it came from has to be the size of a ... human... being... if not bigger. And it's like looking at the feather of a phoenix -- it's a'flame, shimmering with a glow that looks unlike any fire on earth. "I think this is potentially one of the rarest of things on earth." Sin's voice is very quiet. "That is a primary feather from the Archangel Uriel."
Psylocke has posed:
There's no questioning that what's in that box is /beautiful/, but also indescribably more. It's apparent just on mere inspection, and Betsy's breath catches in her throat as she gazes at it, as if spellbound. Her hand is already reaching out towards it when Nathaniel reveals what it is, and she freezes.

"That seems like a dangerous thing to have."

Understatement, Betsy. She's not normally given to caution, and the fact that she displays it says a lot. "Is this going to mess me up?" She asks it plainly, without judgement. She's willing, either way -- she /wants/ to -- she just seems to want to know for sure. "If so, I'll preorder some hot chocolate with whiskey in it."
Sinister has posed:
"It shouldn't in the way that other things have done. Uriel is well... intimidating in the right circumstances, but he's the angel of Wisdom. I have no idea what you will feel from that and thusly I do not want to colour your judgement. I know what /I/ felt when I mused on it." Sin replies that, with an open palmed gesture to the pinion.

Not just Wisdom, but insight, forethought and forewarning. The closest thing in the heavenly host, to a precog. And maybe that's the crunch.

"He is not impossible to blindside, I'll note. It's just very, very hard to do so. You have to almost think, behave and plan in complete illogic, but he does occasionally get surprised."
Psylocke has posed:
"The warning is noted but I hope, never required for my own personal use." Betsy's smiling, albeit briefly. She really does appreciate the insight even if she has every intention of staying well out of the range of one of the Host's gaze.

Hard to say if she's reassured by Sinister's explanation or not. She merely crosses her legs, smooths down her dress with one hand, and reaches out to settle her fingertips lightly across the feather with the other, in a way that the contact could be readily dislodged.

Betsy reaches out, mentally, opens herself up. Some part of her wants to brace, but that's the opposite of what she needs to do to see the truth of the object. Instead, she lets it wash over her.
Sinister has posed:
It's subtle at first, the effects of that particular pinion, spanning only the course of a day, when brushed so lightly. The decisions of the day panning out through a series of probabilities and possibilities -- finding a five dollar bill on the street when turning left instead of right. Trivial tiny things; but significant in that this is her, her day, her choices and little flashes of what would have happened had she taken the 'blue pill' so to speak.

Beyond that, if she probes deeper, THAT is when it's all in her ballpark of gifts just what she feels from the flight feather of an Archangel.

And a different question does sort of lurk in the wings (ahaha) -- just why does Sinister HAVE this in the first place? And how did he GET it! Well, the answer to that might be reasonably obvious, but there was absolutely no guaranteeing that the Fallen and the Heavenly Host get along.

Sin watches her for a good long moment, then takes up his own coffee, sipping it as he keeps a steady regard.
Psylocke has posed:
The flood of it nearly overwhelms her.

There's a reason the ability to see the future is limited, even in Psylocke, to vague and ill understood dreams. The human mind just isn't made to cope with the awareness of just how small and insignificant one's choices are. Fortunately, Betsy's only /half/ human. Even so, it's a lot.

Instead of taking it in, she lets it rush through and over and past her. She doesn't pursue the leads of the 'what if': they are useless to her, and not the intent of the exercise; and moreso they are a tempting trap. The weak minded could easily use this as a foible, to help them make every little decision in life. It wouldn't be a life at all.

Betsy Braddock pushes deeper.

It's more than her, more than the people she works with and the groups she works in and the mutants she works on behalf of. It's more than politicians and governments and even countries. It's the choices of impossibly powerful beings who neither know nor case of the impact they have on a person, or countries or even planets.

/Insignificant/ is putting it mildly.

Her fingers jerk free of the feather, and Betsy goes still. Her body feels too small for her mind. It's a feeling she's felt before, a cognitive dissonance she's weathered and adjusted to. It's never /pleasant/, but it's not at all unbearable. Just very, very disconcerting.
Sinister has posed:
It'll be quite a few moments after she's taken her hand off the feather, that Sin says anything. But when he does and jerks her out of the 'reset' mode, the box is closed, his hand atop of it, gently but firmly holding it in place.

"It's a phenomenon, isn't it? What did you garner from contact?" He doesn't want to lead the reply, but a small probe and an open end, will hopefully be fruitful.

And hopefully so will an explanation, once she's expunged.
Psylocke has posed:
For a time she doesn't speak, and she appreciates the silence. Small movements show her fight to fit her thoughts back into her body; the tick of her ankle, the heavy swallow, the fluttering of her eyelashes. Eventually, it forms into proper movement, almost lacking her effortless grace as she reaches for the coffee, taking a for-real sip this time, too-aware of the heat of it as it glides down her throat and into her gut.

Only once she's set the cup down successfully and her hands folded into her lap that his words anchor her in the here and now, and she is able to rouse herself to an answer.

"It's... possibility. Only a day's worth. In the hands of someone insignificant, /it/ is insignificant. In the hands of someone with power and leverage..." and Betsy is /looking/ at Nathaniel now, pointedly, "It is as I said. Dangerous. Beyond measure. We should not have this. /You/ should not have this, Nathaniel."

Her eyes tick down to her hands, folded: deliberately, it would seem, in her lap. "It is an easy step from the thought that this could be used to a greater good -- like preventing the visions I've had, the Apophis entity -- to becoming a slave to it. The temptation is there."
Sinister has posed:
"You're right, in that regard. I shouldn't have it. But I do. The thing is, I have no intention of using it for my own benefit, because I know the trap that that would cause. I suspect that's why Uriel's always been reticent to gift anyone with one. We're fallable beings, after all." Sinister sniffs, tapping the box in a scale, up and down, of all five fingers. He repeats that a few times, then focuses more firmly on her.

"But it is very good to realize that the potential I felt in it, is verified. It will do what I want it to do --" he inhales, breathes a long sigh of relief and looks momentarily... content?

Yes. Content.

"I have been designing a device, which needed a power source, that allowed probability input, assisted by AI, to view parallels through quantum. In essentia, to be able to review scenarios, with the full understanding that nothing turns out quite the same way twice, it will still be an invaluable tool. We... do not have room in our lexicon, to be making catastrophic mistakes in the months to come."

Another deep breath there.

"Which brings me to the next thing I wanted to talk to you about. Me. Because of course I love talking about myself, I'm just -that- fantastic, right?" the smile is a veil, his eyes are extremely serious. "I'm an anomally. I've shown you bits of what I can do, what I'm capable of, Betsy. You saw that I can not only be anyone I want to be, I can also be /multiples/ of an entity. I can be a hive mind, if I want to be."
Psylocke has posed:
As she listens, Betsy realizes Sinister's intention not only to keep the feather, but to use it. For a moment, she's stuck in the awareness that this could be the moment -- the moment they are set on down the path of inevitability. She can't be sure, but she's aware this is one of those decisions that can change the course of their futures.

The question is whether she trusts Sinister enough to let him proceed unimpeded. That content expression he displays does unsettle her, even if it doesn't show on the Japanese woman's features.

Betsy is silent while he explains his intentions fully.

Some part of her wishes for something to drink; while simultaneously being glad she's clear-headed for this. It makes her bid to express her concern openly a knowing, clear decision. "What if this is it, Nathaniel? What if /this/ is the catastrophic mistake?" She gestures towards the box, careful not to let her fingers get too close.

It's tempting, even now.

When he says that last, the violet-haired woman stills. "Is that wise?" there's no care in her words, she thinks it and says it. "The... who you were, before Jean excised that part of yourself. Is there any chance that multiples of yourself might evolve, change, step away from the Hive mind? You, Nathaniel Essex, would be your own worst enemy."

And everyone else's, probably.
Sinister has posed:
"I already am. That's why I tell you not to trust me. I'm the only one of me that gives a damn." Nathaniel replies, with his expression serene, but oddly resigned. He gives a slight shrug, as if to say 'what can you do?' and shakes his head. "I've become seperated from the rest of me, at first out of a sense of jealously guarding what I found, so that none of the others could ruin what I was attempting. And then, after a while, because I realised what I actually -had- was precious." He shakes his head again, looking at the box his hand rests upon.

"So never trust me, unless and until you know -this- me from any other me you might encounter. There are ... differences. I'm the only one with the wings. I'm also, as far as I know, the original. There's nothing quite like feeling like you've lost all control over yourself, whilst at the same time, being in -complete- control. By the by? Jean didn't excise my monster solo. I was doing quite a bit of work there, too. As was Emma."
Psylocke has posed:
/Never trust me./ It's a thing he's said multiple times before. Betsy finally comprehends exactly what he means. "Engineering a mach-three speed to prompt the display of your wings is probably unfeasible as a testing method in the long term," she says, dryly. Her violet gaze rests on him, considering, as she nods thoughtfully, a flicker of surprise at the news Emma was involved.

Finally, Betsy says, "I'd like to bury a token in your thoughts. It would let me know you are /you/ -- assuming you're willing to let me in should the need to prove your bona fides comes up. If the other versions of you are not willing, well -- that in itself would be an answer."
Sinister has posed:
"I'm willing to allow that," Sinister replies, after a brief chuckle at the dry wit. He also writhes his shoulders a little at this juncture, reaching up and over with his free hand to fidget under his collar. There's a little wince, then he comes back out with a single feather, set on the table. It's a wee one, easily concealed, from the alurion of the wing, like as not. But it's black as coal and fringed with that burning, burnished hellfire glow. "And you can have that."

He closes eyes though, firmly, chin lifting, his face becoming steadily flat in affect. "Proceed. I have shielded as much as I think ought be necessary to not go too deep. Unless you -want- to go deep, but I have a feeling you probably would rather not."
Psylocke has posed:
It's not often easy to surprise one Betsy Braddock. Some of it is just because she's a telepath -- because she can read minds, because she often infers peoples' intentions -- but a lot of it is just experience. When you've gone through what she's gone through, there's less and less that's startling.

Being offered a literal feather from the wings of Mister Sinister though? That's a new one. The hesitation is evident, before she touches the feather, but it doesn't give her the same sensations that Uriel's feather did. Her fingers glide across it, curious undoubtedly how alike, or not, it is to Warren's feathers. She lets it fall still in her hands as she turns her gaze towards Nathaniel.

Has Betsy learned her lessons yet about not going too deep? Unlikely.

However in this case there is no need -- and every reason not to. The touch of her mind is feather-light, tracing his surface thoughts. Her, "It's soft. It always startles me when a feather is softer than I expect," is deliberate, to bring his thoughts to her, on her. The touch is feather-light, following that thought of her, and burying a subconscious token along with it. If one were to examine it, it looks kind of like a butterfly, kind of like a cockroach; tied to the thought of her, so it should be apparent to her in his surface thoughts when he sees her. The cockroach is to ensure he doesn't discard the thought, something he thinks of and says often in Betsy's presence. Memory is all about association.

The sense of her fades from his awareness soon after. "Thank you."
Sinister has posed:
Even a surface contact, is potentially a bit on the seductive side. Temporarily, fleetingly, there's the appearance of a great university-like sprawling fortress of the mind, with librums, collonades, atriums and likely vaults aplenty and perhaps doors within doors within doors. He's lived a very long time, by the modern standards -- not near as long as a God or some of the older denizens of the otherworld on Earth, but he has filled all his time extensively.

Plus, for all he's a lot of other things one thing Doctor Essex always was and always has been, is observant. This put him ahead of his time by hundreds of years. And it means that all the subtleties that he saw over the ages, are imbedded here. A catalogue of observations of life and nuanced detail in his mindscape. Luckily, the doors are firmly shut at the moment and the butterfly cockroach can slip into a flowerbed and sit quite happily.

"Something so fragile seeming, can be incredibly strong. A thing I think far more people should be aware of than currently are. You are welcome." Sin eases back in his seat at long last, hand still resting on the ebon box. "Now, comes the task of entering programming information and calibrating construction. For what it's worth, I ran scenario after scenario for reliability on other sources than the one I settled on, but none of them had a great enough power source."
Psylocke has posed:
The temptation is undoubtedly there. Few minds are closed to Betsy Braddock, and it's as much the lack of access as the temptation of knowledge that makes it attractive. But she is clear-headed, and truthfully, still a little on edge from the discussion of the angel feather and its possibilities. One thing at a time.

Her fingers still trace the gentle arch of the feather he gave her, though.

She is, perhaps, wordlessly grateful Nathaniel's hand stays on the box. Yet another temptation to resist.

"I would ask you build in a precaution," Betsy says, slowly. "If, for some reason, the experiment fails, or something happens to you -- I'd like for you to come up with a way to put that feather out of the hands of... well, myself. Or anyone else. It is too much of a temptation. I am confident you have ways of managing that."
Sinister has posed:
"Oh, of course. I have a certain... tendancy towards proprietary knowledge. A goodly part of me wants people to take the hard way, not the easy way, to understanding, enlightenment and invention. It's probably why I haven't had any proteges in my life so far, too many people annoy me by taking short cuts." -- Which is a perambulatory way of saying 'I don't like other people playing with my toys, unless I approve'.

As noted though, observant. And he places the box, its contents and such into the inside pocket of his well tailored, but voluminous evening jacket. Out of sight, if not out of mind. And as if reading the cue...

"Maybe some time, you might take a walk in halls. But not today. It can be distracting or purposeful, depending on if you've a rationale in mind, or an answer you're looking for." PAuse, beat. "Although the latter has a tendancy to preclude itself to being conflatory. Very few things have only one answer."
Psylocke has posed:
The relief is subtle, but in her gaze. And in the easing of Betsy's posture as Nathaniel slips away the case. It may be out of sight but it's certainly not out of mind. Still, it effectively puts it out of reach. The woman's well aware she's hopelessly outclassed when compared to the gentleman. Safer, that way.

"Good," she says, her voice hushed.

It surprises her, that latter offer. Her lips part for a moment as she considers. "I would very much like to," Betsy murmurs, admits the weakness willingly, but offsets it with a knowing smile, "And for that very reason it feels like it would be an unwise decision to do so."

"Perhaps you heard," Betsy says, deliberately changing the topic. "Angelica Jones, one of the X-Force that Logan recruited, took up membership in the Justice League. Which naturally precludes her from being part of a black ops team." What it means for Logan, she doesn't say -- or speculate. "She cited you and Lucifer as one of her concerns. Your reputation still outdoes you inside the halls of Xavier." Which is surely no surprise.
Sinister has posed:
"It also just says volumes about her, doesn't it?" Sinister replies, shaking his head a measure. "Even with all that the world throws at you, so many cruelties and injustices, so many deaths of a thousand cuts, you still so many of you think that you can fix things without once getting your hands dirty. I supposes there's some paragon of utter virtue out there that might be capable of it, but to the rest I say 'How's that working out for you?'." Sinister shrugs one shoulder slightly. "Even Charles asked for my help once or twice. And bloodywell co-opted my research and sublimed it..." he wrinkles his nose at that, then exhales.

"You know," he offers "...being in the justice league does not preclude her from being useful. But because she knows about it, she could be more problematic. I've been patiently feeding Superman some tidbits. It's been very useful."
Psylocke has posed:
"Many do, but not all. And I think it's important that both points of view are kept. People like you and I will keep the world from completely imploding, and people like her will help rebuild whatever we save." Betsy is somewhat of a realist about this. "Charles understands for the Dream to survive compromise must be made. Scott understands that, too," she says, her voice careful at the mention of him around Sinister.

"Oh, we're definitely keeping in contact. If things go badly being able to call in the big guns is valuable." It's news that he's in contact with Superman, and she gives him a surprised look. "You think he can divert the approach?" she looks doubtful on that, but interested.
Sinister has posed:
Sinister shakes his head. "If he did, he runs the risk of becoming entangled and a beacon for the entity that the energy surrounds. But he might be useful in other respects - and he has a grudging respect for me, which is exceptionally helpful." Sinister just took the mention of Scott in stride, with barely a tick of the jaw to indicate anything otherwise.

"But overall, I think it's too soon to tell. Anyhow..." he smiles to her, indicating the rather obvious crowds of ne'er do well enjoying the fine dining of the higher class of criminality. "I have to see a man about some extremely rare gold isotopes. I know, most don't know that there are any, but he's got a very peculiar ear. And we've got a planet that gets visited by aliens... so meteoric elements aren't as rare as they could be. Still, it's very hard to get a hold of. Thank you for meeting me, Betsy. It was... important."

He rolls a bow over his arm, ending with a wrist flourish. "Reach out if you need me. Think loud enough and I will likely hear."
Psylocke has posed:
"That might not matter so much now, given the effects with Lucifer and myself," Betsy muses, but still. They don't know how it would interact with a Kryptonian's DNA, and she's not about to suggest experimenting with one of the world's best known superheroes. "A grudging respect," the woman echoes with a smile. "That is sometimes the best you can hope for people."

Reaching for her purse, Betsy unclips it and slides that gifted feather inside. A moment later, she uncrosses her legs, and stands smoothly. "I must be going, anyway. My car service is due to return and I'm afraid if I make them wait too long there will be no car left to drive me away." The bow is given a pleased looking smile that could be mistaken for fondness: little things that remind her of home. "Likewise, Nathaniel. Good evening."

And with that, she leaves, heels clipping on the floor as she departs.